A recent proposal to ease reimbursement of the health care European citizens receive while visiting other EU countries is just “the beginning of a long row,” predicted a top Commission official as German diplomats warned they may challenge the legal basis of the draft directive.
The warning came during a stakeholder debate on the Commission’s recent proposal on patients’ rights in cross-border health care, which took place in Parliament on 15 July.
Robert Madelin, the director general at the Commission’s health and consumer protection department, predicted that early discussions on the draft directive signalled “the beginning of a long row” as he struggled to defend the proposal against hesitations over the legal workability of the system. Others pointed to the gap that the proposal could create between rich and poor.
“In a decade, we will look back and see how far we’ve got,” said Madelin, suggesting that discussions over the matter could take many years. The draft directive only “streamlines the rights that the Court has already delivered,” said the top EU official. “It is not the end of the world as seen by health managers,” he added.